Archive for February, 2013
What Proust’s discovered personal papers tell us about his mother. (The Los Angeles Times)
A poem by Charlotte Brontë, penned when she was 13 years old, heads to auction. (The Telegraph)
The Smithsonian magazine goes digital. (Library Journal)
John Green has a chat on Twitter and it’s covered by (The Atlantic)
Nabakov swings back into the hotseat. (The New Yorker)
Actor, John Cusack, holds court on Freedom of the Press and Hunter S. Thompson. (Mediabistro)
I heart my Nook, but it’s apparently giving B&N heartburn. (Publishers Weekly)
EL James to follow up 50 SHADES OF GREY with something much more sedate. (The Daily Beast)
Essayist, poet, and hero to many, Stéphane Hessel, has died. He was 93 yeas old. Rest in peace. (The Independent)
“On this day in 1973 Thomas Pynchon’s third novel, Gravity’s Rainbow, entered American bookstores and split the literary world. Pulitzer Prize jurors unanimously recommended it, but Pulitzer advisory board members called it ‘unreadable’ and ‘obscene.’ The novel seduced many critics but found few readers who would finish its 760 pages on the first attempt. Meanwhile, but for appearing on The Simpsons with a bag over his head, the author stayed out of the public eye, just as he had at the publication of his first two books….” (Today In Literature)
“The most important thing in life is to stop saying ‘I wish’ and start saying ‘I will.’ Consider nothing impossible, then treat possibilities as probabilities.”
― Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
Irene Wanner on Gretel Ehrlich’s Facing the Wave: A Journey in the Wake of the Tsunami: “Long a student of Japanese art and poetry, her reverence for this Asian culture allows her to add personal perspective to the vivid reporting about people whose lives and world were so utterly changed.” (Seattle Times)
Peter Parker on (editor) Carol Z. Rothkopf’s Selected Letters of Siegfried Sassoon and Edmund Blunden, 1919–1967: ” While Sassoon and Blunden’s obsessive sending up of such minor figures as Humbert Wolfe and Robert Nichols, however well deserved, proves wearying, there is plenty of fascinating material here about their complex relationship with Robert Graves, their love of Thomas Hardy, their heroic championing of Wilfred Owen and their lack of enthusiasm for Isaac Rosenberg (despite Sassoon having provided a brief but highly laudatory foreword to the 1937 Collected Works).” (The Times Literary Supplement)
Carolyn Cooke on Stuart Nadler’s Wise Men: “A fiction about affluent East Coast men behaving badly through the second half of the 20th century will doubtless draw comparisons to John Cheever. Although Nadler’s ambitions clearly lie in this direction – the nuanced and romanticized depiction of characters flawed in distinctly American ways – this rushed, early effort crashes and burns.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
Heller McAlpin on Ellen Meister’s Farewell, Dorothy Parker: “Alas, “Farewell, Dorothy Parker” is not as delectable as its fanciful premise leads us to hope for. It’s weakened by expository excesses, too many embarrassingly corny lines and facile psychologizing. But it did succeed in moving me to tears.” (Washington Post)
Simon Armitage is gearing up for a really, really long walk. (The New York Daily News)
The LA Times anticipates Thomas Pynchon’s BLEEDING EDGE. (The Los Angeles Times)
The Literary Caucus has decided. The answer is Philip Roth. (Vulture)
David Mitchell lends his talents to the interpretation of an autistic teenager’s journal. (The Guardian)
Dan Rhodes has a chat with (Granta)
Here are samples of this year’s Bram Stoker nominees. (GalleyCat)
Ack! You killed Robin! You bastards! (Parallel Universe)
Have a peek inside this week’s NYT Bestseller list. (The New York Times)
Fun with first sentences from (The San Francisco Chronicle)
“On this day in 1956 Sylvia Plath described in her journal her first meeting with Ted Hughes. The morning of writing was ‘gray, most sober, with cold white puritanical eyes’; the evening before had started at a bar where ‘I drank steadily the goblets’ and endured ‘some ugly gat-toothed squat grinning guy named Meeson trying to be devastatingly clever.’ At the party — ‘and oh, it was very bohemian, with boys in turtleneck sweaters and girls being blue-eye-lidded or elegant in black’ — there was more of the same… (Today In Literature)
A trove of undiscovered Kipling poetry has turned up. (The Guardian)
What’s the bankroll on a library opening? (American Library Association)
Author, Marina Warner, talks about her studies and conclusions on The Virgin Mary. (The Telegraph)
Penguin’s line up is looking pretty weighty with big names – new books from Thomas Pynchon, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Charlaine Harris. (GalleyCat)
And what is that book smell anyway? (PopSci)
Is Nook’s future could be dangling by a business deal. (The Bookseller)
London and literature, always. (Daily Herald)
Biographer, Robert Caro, takes accolades (and the American History Book Prize) from The New York Historical Society. (The New York Times)
“On this day in 1830 Victor Hugo’s Hernani premiered in Paris. Though the play is rarely read or staged now, the opening night is regarded as one of the most momentous in French theater history, part of a larger and most theatrical conflict between the new-wave bohemians in Hugo’s “Romantic Army” and the old-guard Classicists. Hugo had recently published what amounted to a Manifesto of Romanticism, calling for an end to the old rules and proprieties; the artists and bohemians saw the premiere of Hernani as an opportunity to rally behind this call, to provoke the bourgeoisie, and to have a grand time. Anticipating a battle, Hugo had enlisted their support, and refused to employ the customary claquers, or hired clappers…” (Today In Literature)
“Why shouldn’t we, so generally addicted to the gigantic, at last have some small works of art, some short poems, short pieces of music [...], some intimate, low-voiced, and delicate things in our mostly huge and roaring, glaring world?”
― Elizabeth Bishop
Curtis Sittenfeld on Christine Sneed’s Little Known Facts: “…juicy enough to appeal to our prurience but smart enough not to make us feel dirty afterward.” (NYTimes)
Anthony Cummins on Nadeem Aslam’s The Blind Man’s Garden: “Aslam’s novel is essentially historical, set before the era of suicide attacks in Pakistan, to say nothing of murder-by-drone and the American redefinition of “civilian” to exclude military-age males. Mikal’s remark, borrowed from Czeslaw Milosz, that his countrymen are “bodies assigned for wounds” may hold yet more truth now than in the phase of history on which this brutal and troubling saga draws.” (The Telegraph)
Barney Thompson on Lawrence Osborne’s The Wet and the Dry: A Drinker’s Journey: “If you want an entertaining romp through half the bars of the Middle East and southern Asia, laced with history, anecdote and commandments from a putative drinker’s manifesto, this is the book for you. For a genuine insight into the world of the dry, you will have to go elsewhere.” (Financial Times)
Keith Staskiewicz on Roger Hobbs’ Ghostman: “Hobbs’ plotting is snare-drum tight… and the story is layered with double crosses and wound up with an effective but eventually tiresome ticking-clock motif that gives a countdown at the end of every chapter.” (EW.com)
James Smythe continues his series on rereading the whole Stephen King catalog. He’s up to PET SEMATARY. (The Guardian)
Buying your way to the Bestseller lists? It really doesn’t work. (The Wall Street Journal)
ABC News tries to get a handle on the scope and lure of “smut fiction”. (ABC News)
Performing enhancing drugs: they aren’t just for cyclists and people who sit in outdoor bathtubs holding hands. (GalleyCat)
Somebody leaked the list of Pulitzer judges. (Quartz)
Oscar nominees and their book inspirations. (Bookriot)
“On this day in 1903 the Canadian novelist and short story writer, Morley Callaghan was born. Though prolific and successful, Callaghan was so overlooked by the critics for much of his career that Edmund Wilson thought him “the most unjustly neglected writer in the English language.” Much of the attention that Callaghan did receive was not for his twenty novels and story collections but for That Summer in Paris (1963), a memoir of his Lost Generation days among “a very small, backbiting, gossipy neighborhood” of Latin Quarter expatriates…” (Today In Literature)
“Nothing exists until or unless it is observed. An artist is making something exist by observing it. And his hope for other people is that they will also make it exist by observing it. I call it ‘creative observation.’ Creative viewing.”
– William S. Burroughs
Gordon Hauptfleisch on Timothy Hallinan’s Little Elvises (Junior Bender #2): “…twists and turns have their own twists and turns – hairpin turns – as the narrative careens at hazardously high speeds through circuitous story arcs and screwball scenarios all over the map (well, mostly back and forth “over the hill” between Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley).” (seattlepi.com)
Martin F. Nolan on Jeffrey Frank’s Ike and Dick: “In this detailed and charming history, Frank lets them speak for themselves, most eloquently when they try to subdue their tempers.” (The Columbus Dispatch)
Lucy Felthouse on Vina Jackson’s Eighty Days Amber: “…another great addition to the series, giving us more information on the characters we’ve been introduced to so far, as well as a comprehensive backstory on Luba.” (Blogcritics)
Maureen Corrigan on Chris Morgan Jones’ The Jackal’s Share: “…with a British appreciation for understatement, Jones elegantly executes the basic elements of the conventional thriller.” (NPR)
Have a look at the 2012 L.A. Times Bookprize finalists! (The Los Angeles Times)
Independent bookstores store take Amazon & The Big 6 to court over ebooks. (Publishers Weekly)
… and Andrew Losowsky has a look at their case and their chances. (The Huffington Post)
If you get a word wrong often enough, you just might mutate it. It’s happened before. Here’s a few examples. (Mental Floss)
Audiobooks, like music, are now largely digital. (GalleyCat)
… and you may soon enjoy virtual author readings. The future is now, guys. (Booktalk Nation)
… as such, what do you think the bookshops will look like? (The Telegraph)
Jackie Collins has a chat with (The New York Times)
“On this day in 1852 Nikolai Gogol died at the age of forty-two. His unique style — most famously in stories “The Nose” and “The Overcoat,” the play The Inspector General; and the novel Dead Souls — is a comic-tragic-absurd hybrid which has led to him being labeled the Hieronymous Bosch of Russian Literature. Having come under the sway of a fanatical priest late in life, and then been subjected to the treatments of several quack doctors, Gogol’s last days mirrored one of his nightmare stories all too closely….” (Today In Literature)
Patricia Cornwell prevails in her lawsuit against her former manager – to the tune of just about $51 million. (The Boston Globe)
Ray Bradbury’s work is digital in the UK. Not that he’d necessarily be thrilled by that. (The Guardian)
Truman Capote has gotten what he wished for. Sort of. (The Millions)
Author, Benjamin Nugent, reveals how he was influenced by Jonathan Franzen in (The Atlantic)
Have a peek at Presidential edits. (GalleyCat)
Did you know these films started as novels (or novellas)? (The Huffington Post)
The London Review of Books responds to the scuttlebutt over Hilary Mantel’s comments. (The Guardian)
“On this day in 1909 the Italian poet F. T. Marinetti published his ‘The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism’ in the Paris newspaper, Le Figaro. This is regarded as the birth of the Futurist movement, which in radical or watered-down ways had a significant influence on modern art and literature, and on modern communications theorists such as Marshall McLuhan.
The Futurist movement celebrated the techno-discord it saw on the horizon — the rush of cars, the collapse of community, the shock of new and now. Although it derided Romantic nostalgia, Marinetti’s preamble to the Manifesto could get lyrical…” (Today In Literature)
I refuse to write about myself in the third person. I’ve done it when they’ve made me, but I ain’t doing it here. 5 Minutes Alone has always been one my favorite features here on AuthorScoop, so I’m just thrilled to be here in both the Q and A aspects of the post for the first time. As for my debut novel, THREE GRAVES FULL, it’s gotten starred reviews at Library Journal, Booklist, and Publisher’s Weekly. Last Sunday, Marilyn Stasio called it “a ripping good novel” in the New York Times.
It’s a dream come true to be part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.
AuthorScoop: What was your very first publication credit?
Jamie: In the legend that is memory, when I was nine or ten years old a teacher loved a poem I’d written in class. She submitted it to Highlights Magazine on my behalf and it was accepted. I remember it was called White, and I seem to remember seeing the magazine itself with my poem on the page. We didn’t have a subscription, so I never had a copy to keep. Of course, this was all a very long time ago. It’s a fuzzy recollection and I can’t prove any of it, so I’ll just go with my novel, THREE GRAVES FULL, as the First-Publishing-Credit-For-Certain.
AuthorScoop: Tell us about your latest release.
Jamie: THREE GRAVES FULL is the story of mild-mannered Jason Getty, a guy who, when under pressure, has a propensity for doing the wrong thing. Case in point: when a confrontation goes too far and a man lies dead on the living room rug, Jason buries the guy in the backyard instead of explaining himself to the police. In fine non-psychopathic form, this bothers Jason quite a lot – all the way to the extent that he can’t bring himself to do any yard work. He just can’t be out there.
The seasons have their way with Jason’s lawn until his paranoia drives him to hire landscapers to fix the front yard so that his neighbors don’t file a complaint. Jason’s best effort to keep an eye on the work crew fails to prevent disaster, and when the landscapers, horrified, call him out to show him what they’ve unearthed on his property, Jason’s sure the jig is up. But what they’ve found is a dry-bones skeleton in the mulch bed at the side of the house, not the newer, riper body of the guy Jason planted at the back woods a year and some earlier. And he has no idea who it is.
Jason has about 300 pages of problems after that, as you can imagine.
AuthorScoop: Aside from your own hard work, who (or what) else do you feel has contributed to your success?
Jamie: It’s hard to know where even to begin. I’ve been so fortunate to have an incredibly supportive network of family and friends. No one laughed at me when I said I wanted to do this. Not to my face, at least. And when I’d said it and said it and said for years while I learned how to write (but never had anything to show for it) they fed and watered my dreams and because of them, despite periods of wanting to give up, those dreams didn’t wither. My husband and children have been patient and enthusiastic in measures I can hardly believe. My mother and sisters, my in-laws, my incredible friends, they’ve all been terrific. That’s a lie. They’ve been everything.
On the business of making a book, my husband is a tremendous first-pass editor. Then my work always goes through the blistering sieve of wit and talent that is my writing-pal’s brain. His name is Graeme Cameron. You don’t know him yet, but you will. Writer extraordinaire, Tana French, gave friendship and encouragment in resolve-saving doses. And my agent, Amy Moore-Benson, is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. Not in any way least, the entire team at Gallery Books has been, to a one, a joy to work with.
And poet and editor, William Haskins here at AuthorScoop, has been a friend, inspiration, and the angel on my shoulder for years. I’m very lucky.
AuthorScoop: At what time of day or night do you do your best writing?
Jamie: It doesn’t really matter. Writing is such an effort of concentration for me that my body conspires with my to-do list to keep me away from the keyboard. It’s a stupid fight I have with my reluctance, because when I do turn the inertia my way, writing is a joy, day or night.
AuthorScoop: Finally, what advice would you give to new or unpublished writers?
Jamie: Read a lot. Sometimes force yourself to finish books you don’t care for. I think I’ve found that knowing what I don’t want to do has been nearly as beneficial as dissecting the books I love. Also, to save your head, I’d say to keep your hopes and expectations in separate boxes. Unpack them both often. Catalog the contents. Cherish them. But always try to remember what goes in which box.
Jamie Mason is easy enough to find on the web (crap, I’ve slipped into third person.) There’s a website, a blog, Twitter, and Facebook. THREE GRAVES FULL is available in bookstores now, but if you’re impatient or forgetful, there’s always Indiebound and Amazon.
Will naked authors be a boon to the book business? (Bare it for Books)
Noah Berlatsky weighs in on the controversy of Orson Scott Card writing the new SUPERMAN in (The Atlantic)
Janet Maslin talks about finally getting around to reading THE FEMININE MYSTIQUE. To be fair, the woman has a hell of a to-be-read pile. (The New York Times)
Author and journalist, Rahul Pandita, has a chat with (The International Herald Tribune)
Philip Roth is really happy not to be writing fiction anymore. (The Daily Beast)
Hilary Mantel is less than impressed with Kate Middleton according to (The Daily Mail)
…but if you read what she actually said, you might come away with a different opinion. (London Review of Books)
The Holocaust nail that German literature has filed to hit on the head… (Haaretz)
Author Barnaby Conrad has died. He was 90 years old. Rest in peace. (Philly.com)
Author Martin Zweig has died. He was 70 years old. Rest in peace. (Bloomberg Business Week)
Author Debbie Ford has died. She was 57 years old. Rest in peace. (The Christian Science Monitor)
“On this day in 1947 Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano was published. Lowry began the book where it is set, in the Cuernavaca region of Mexico in the late 30s, but it had been a full and difficult decade in the making — a handful of rewrites, many handfuls of rejections, a nearly disastrous fire, a divorce, and mostly a desperate struggle with alcohol that would at one point drive him to drink olive oil in the mistaken belief it was hair tonic. Given the struggle to write the book, and perhaps sensing that he would never manage another such, Lowry wanted to be there on publication day….” (Today In Literature)
“The need to write comes from the need to make sense of one’s life and discover one’s usefulness.”
― John Cheever
Carolyn Kellogg on James Lasdun’s Give Me Everything You Have: “Amid Lasdun’s well-articulated feelings of bafflement and dismay at being stalked, there are stretches of obliviousness: to power relationships, to nuance in language, even to how he tells the story.” (LATimes)
Adam Langer on Jess Walter’s We Live in Water: “Taken together, the stories in “We Live in Water” – Walter’s first collection of short fiction – create a memorably bleak and indelible portrait of the Northwest, in particular Spokane, Wash., where, according to his essay “Statistical Abstract for My Hometown,” 18 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, shelters, halfway houses and rehab centers are prevalent, and no matter where you live, “you’re never more than three blocks from a bad neighborhood.”" (San Francisco Chronicle)
Doug Johnstone on Dan Rhodes’ Marry Me: “Taken individually, the stories invariably raise a chuckle, usually accompanied by a wince and an involuntary acknowledgement of the truth behind the sloppy stuff of romance. But more impressively, when taken as a whole, Marry Me amounts to a bleak yet funny world view, as if P G Wodehouse and Graham Greene had got together to form a greetings card company.” (The Independent)
Michel Faber on Woody Guthrie’s House of Earth: “At its best, the book is an eccentric hymn to the everythingness of everything, a sort of hillbilly Finnegans Wake. But very little happens in it, and there’s not much social or political context either.” (The Guardian)
Do you have stress over all that you haven’t read? (The Guardian)
Book thieves in Texas (and presumably everywhere) are expensive jerks. (Library Journal)
Brace yourself for new Bond. William Boyd’s take on Ian Fleming’s icon will land on the shelves on September 26th. (The Bookseller)
WAR AND PEACE has been adapted for the small screen and BBC will present this epic under Andrew Davies direction. (The Telegraph)
Hachette’s new CEO still plans to edit a few titles a year. (Book Business Magazine)
David Corn of Mother Jones wins the George Polk Award for Political Reporting. (The Daily Beast)
Camilla Long’s review of AFTERMATH: ON MARRIAGE AND SEPARATION, by Rachel Cusk takes The Hatchet Job of the Year Award. (The Huffington Post)
An old-fashioned spin on bookselling with a nod to how we all love to get presents. (Publishers Weekly)
Sometimes science reads so good, you’d think it was science fiction. (io9)
Reader’s Digest files for bankruptcy. (The Bookseller)
Indulge in some speculation about Haruki Murakami’s new book with (The Guardian)
“On this day in 1883, Nikos Kazantzakis was born, in Heraklion, Crete. Kazantzakis was a philosopher, a doctor of laws, a politician, and a prolific writer in almost all genres. He studied under Henri Bergson, won the Lenin Peace Prize, missed the 1957 Nobel by one vote, translated Goethe and Dante, wrote a 33,333 line sequel to the Odyssey, and traveled the world for much of his expatriate life. Notwithstanding, his most famous novel, Zorba the Greek is a rejection of intellectualism and a return to his birthplace…” (Today In Literature)
“Forget the boring old dictum “write about what you know.” Instead, seek out an unknown yet knowable area of experience that’s going to enhance your understanding of the world and write about that.”
― Rose Tremain
Stephan Lee on Domenica Ruta’s With Or Without You: “…comes across as a bleaker, funnier, R-rated version of The Glass Castle and marks the arrival of a blazing new voice in literature.” (EW.com)
Maxwell Carter on Paula Byrne’s The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things: “Byrne’s attitude toward Austen is understandably sympathetic. Still, her merits are occasionally oversold.” (NYTimes)
Charles C. Mann on Napoleon A. Chagnon’s Noble Savages: “Understanding what lessons we can draw from the extraordinarily detailed picture of native lives that Mr. Chagnon has so carefully compiled may be a task for another, more levelheaded, generation of researchers.” (Wall Street Journal)
Elysa Gardner on Jamaica Kincaid’s See Now Then: “Those who treasure Kincaid’s quirky lyricism will no doubt enjoy the challenge, but See Now Then can be as frustrating as it is revealing and charming.” (USAToday)